Pandemic Update

Posted:  August 31, 2020

The latest update from Executive Director, Shawna Kemppainen, regarding how The PLACE has navigated through this year’s pandemic.

Three Things

Posted:  July 8, 2020

Case Manager Karen Henschel and “Ben” shows Shawna, our Executive Director, what the shelter youth do in the morning to prepare for their day. Writing these three things down can help focus attention on the important and immediate, realize purpose, and make for better mental health. Perhaps this 8 minute lesson will be good for you too!

Life in the Shelter

Posted:  April 10, 2020

Many have asked about what life has been like at The Place during the COVID-19 crisis.  Yesterday (April 9th) Karen Henschel, our Education & Employment Case Manager described the challenges for both the youth and the staff.

Exciting News of Strategic Partnerships

Posted:  April 1, 2020

Executive Director, Shawna Kemppainen, has exciting news regarding our ability to serve our clients with the virus. She also thanks Pastor Todd Spencer for First United Methodist Church’s partnership in helping us meet the needs of young people experiencing homelessness in our region.

An Update from the Executive Director

Posted:  March 27, 2020

Please view the latest response by The Place in this video from Shawna Kemppainen, Executive Director.

Our Response to COVID-19

Posted:  March 15, 2020

People experiencing homelessness have an increased risk of infectious disease due to their housing instability, limited access to standard hygiene, and frequency of other illnesses. While most prevention and mitigation strategies to address COVID-19 calls for people to stay home, for the young people served by The Place, that could mean a tent, a car, our shelter, or possibly our housing program.

As of this writing, there has been no local detection of COVID-19 in the community of people experiencing homelessness according to the El Paso County Deptartment of Health and Human Services, which met with homeless services providers on March 12th. While there is no cause for panic, there is real cause to invest now in planning, prevention and mitigation of the virus among the youth we serve, our staff and volunteers.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Department of Housing and Urban Development and other such authorities have well-established guidelines for operating shelters and housing for people experiencing homelessness during times of increased risk of infectious disease spread. The Place is following such guidelines, and our approach is to be aggressively cautious within programs and facilities.

We also believe it is important to be part of broader community planning, prevention and actions regarding serving the vulnerable population of people who are not housed. For that, we’re working with leadership at the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care, and the State of Colorado to identify on-going vital needs such as emergency space for impacted people who don’t have a place inside. For information about some of our protocols, please read on.

Shelter: 20-bed for youth ages 15 – 20

  1. Restricted entry for only staff and the youth we serve. No volunteer or other pubic entry at the shelter until May 12, 2020. We are also not accepting donations of items such as clothing, shoes, etc., but we will accept hand, toilet paper, paper towel, Kleenex, laundry soap.
  2. Increased frequency of routine cleaning schedules as well as deep-clean schedules in all areas.
  3. Prominently posted written and image-heavy reminders and monitoring to ensure young people frequently wash or sanitize their hands properly and avoid touching their faces.
  4. Shelter community conversations several evenings a week creating space for youth to express their feelings and ask questions, and to educate about social distancing, the symptoms of COVID-19, as well as use of the nurse line.
  5. Transporting youth who need urgent, non-emergency care to the appropriate facilities.
  6. Staff: We’ve instituted additional paid sick time over and above existing time off should staff need to stay home due to any illness, ensuring the people feel economically secure during this crisis.

Housing: 70 youth in various homes/apartments

  1. Educating youth about social distancing, hygiene and the benefits of keeping their homes clean.
  2. Increased case management support to address anxiety or questions.
  3. Transporting youth who need urgent, non-emergency care to the appropriate facilities.

Street Outreach: 500+ youth annually

  1. Upgraded cleaning protocols in the “drop in room,”;
  2. Social distancing practices;
  3. Continued distribution of essential hygiene items;
  4. Continued support, identification help, human trafficking awareness, safe relationship case management;
  5. Mental health clinicians on the spot, immediate access.

Your support of The Place has meant so much to the young people we serve and to our staff.  Thank you for your understanding during these unusual times.

Ready to Help 24/7

If you are a youth aged 15 to 24 experiencing homelessness, don’t hesitate to reach out, no matter the day or time. We’re here to help you find the support and resources you need to transition out of homelessness and build a self-determined, fulfilling life.